Kids today are vulnerable to a variety of dangers before, during and after school. Studies indicate that schools are experiencing rising rates of bullying, victimization and violence. Emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications show promise for helping schools minimize these threats and boost student safety.

The IoT refers to the use of embedded sensors and applications to create a network of interconnected devices that can collect, exchange and analyze data. Although commercial and industrial applications get most of the headlines, the IoT is quietly becoming a game-changer in the education sector.

IoT solutions are giving schools the ability to deliver unprecedented levels of safety by connecting everything from school buses to security cameras in ways that provide real-time insight and enable rapid emergency response. In one recent survey of K-12 administrators, 85 percent said they believe the IoT will make schools safer.

IPC is working closely with vendors to develop school-focused IoT solutions that integrate sensor-embedded devices with wireless networks, GPS tracking and data analysis to boost safety. For instance, a student tracking system makes it possible to monitor students from the bus to the classroom and back to the bus, ensuring that all are accounted for. A GPS-enabled fleet management solution allows continuous tracking of buses and helps make sure students get on and off safely.

The tracking system also automates attendance reporting to improve awareness, accountability and notifications. Sensor-embedded ID cards, wearables or smartphone apps are automatically scanned when the bell rings to provide an accurate attendance count. Absences are noted on a dashboard for school administrators, and the system can generate email or text notifications to staff, parents and students.

The fleet management solution is particularly compelling. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most dangerous part of the school bus ride is not actually the time spent on the bus, but getting on and off the bus. This risk is minimized when bus movements are monitored continuously. Students and parents receive text or email notifications when the bus is near their pickup location. Students no longer have long waits outside where they can get into fights or other types of mischief, and it reduces exposure to harsh weather conditions.

The system captures key characteristics at every bus stop, such as whether the driver used the amber lights or stopped for the appropriate amount of time. Through the use of integrated sensors and detailed reporting, managers can view the time stamps and actions of each stop, ensuring drivers are meeting the school district’s safe-operation requirements.

In the event of an accident or a breakdown, GPS capabilities provide emergency personnel with an exact location to speed response. Integrated video monitoring can improve student behavior during bus rides, and it can also provide evidence when other vehicles unlawfully pass in loading zones.

The IoT also makes it possible to link “smart” building technology such as security cameras, wireless door locks and campus-wide alert systems to boost physical security. Furthermore, that data collected from these devices can be integrated with unified communications platforms to deliver alerts to teachers, staff, parents and emergency responders.

School security is not inherently a technology issue. Staff training, crisis management and intervention strategies are all essential elements of a safe school. However, there are areas where technology can be immensely beneficial. IPC has a long track record of leveraging network-enabled solutions to help schools create safe environments for their students. Give us a call to learn more about our education-focused IoT solutions.